There are certain comic book superheroes that are universally beloved, and toward the top of the list, you’ll find Spider-Man. Not only is the wallcrawler one of the greatest classic comic heroes, but his movies have always been box office gold, showing how broad his appeal has been over the decades.
When you focus on just the comic books, though, there are certain issues that have really stood out as the best in the Spider-Man series. If you’ve been a fan of Spider-Man and all of his films over the years, there are some issues that you have to read. Here are our picks for five Spider-Man comic issues that are required reading for all fans.
5. To Have and To Hold
Anyone that’s in a relationship knows how important it can be to put everything in perspective and look back on what makes everything work. This happens beautifully for Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson in the 2007 issues of The Sensational Spider-Man titled “To Have and To Hold”.
After the events of “Civil War”, Spider-Man’s identity was revealed to the public and Mary Jane was being questioned by S.H.I.E.L.D. For readers, it was the perfect way to showcase the relationship between the two characters and why they meant so much to each other, and all of us.
4. Spider-Man: Blue
In another retrospective into Spider-Man’s love life, “Spider-Man: Blue” debuted in 2002 and shows how much the web slinger misses his lost love Gwen Stacy (more on that later). Recalling her death, Parker is depressed and scarred, still missing her long afterward. However, at this point, Parker has been married to Mary Jane Watson.
Spider-Man is recording an audio tape for Gwen to tell her how much he misses her, and Mary Jane takes notice. Instead of resulting in an argument, Mary Jane joins in the mourning in a very touching and poignant ending.
3. If This Be My Destiny
There have been some instances where Spider-Man has “leveled up” in a sense as he’s grown because of an obstacle in his way. The Amazing Spider-Man #33 was the culmination of Spider-Man’s needing to ascend to the next level of power to survive and allowed for one of the most iconic panels in comic book history.
Trapped under a pile of heavy machinery, Spider-Man thinks about his family when all things seemed lost. With his head spinning and the weight of the world literally on his shoulders, Spider-Man is able to lift an unfathomable amount and it moved Spidey up the power scale for superheroes.
2. Spider-Man No More
For Spider-Man film fans, many consider the top movie featuring the character to be “Spider-Man 2” from the Tobey Maguire/Sam Raimi trilogy. In the film, Peter Parker throws his Spider-Man suit into the garbage and says that he’s “Spider-Man no more!” This is a callback to volume one of the Amazing Spider-Man series (#50).
Even the camera angle used in the film was taken directly from the famous comic book panel. There’s one big difference between this issue and the film, though, and it’s that Kingpin is the main villain in the comic books rather than Doctor Octopus.
1. The Night Gwen Stacy Died
This one might be cheating since it’s technically a two-parter, but “The Night Gwen Stacy Died” (a.k.a. “The Amazing Spider-Man #121-122) is the one that Spidey fans always come back to. Originally released in the summer of 1973, the story follows Spider-Man after his identity is discovered by the Green Goblin. Using this information, he goes after Peter Parker’s loved ones, namely his girlfriend Gwen Stacy.
This was a pivotal moment for not just Spider-Man, but for comic books in general. It showed higher stakes than had been seen before and was the start of the Bronze Age of comics. Those that are more familiar with Mary Jane Watson thanks to the Spider-Man films have this issue to thank as she became a more prominent character following Stacy’s death. It also set a new standard of evil for the Green Goblin.